Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

If you’re interested in who Michael Cohen is, how he came to work for Donald Trump, where his money comes from and what network is behind him, you need to listen to this new episode of my podcast. I know that sounds like a high-pressure sale. But trust me: I consider myself a premier Cohen-ologist. But Seth Hettena knew and knows way more than I did not just about Cohen but Trump’s whole universe of Russian/Ukrainian organized crime associates and partners. And he’s got a new book that came out just yesterday. Listen to this episode right here or subscribe on iTunes or Google Play.

In some ways the more fascinating aspect of the fallout from yesterday’s Michael Cohen revelations is seeing Fortune 500 companies struggle to explain how and why they found themselves connected, albeit simply through a shell company, with the President’s payoffs to Stormy Daniels and his fixer’s pay-offs from a Russian oligarch. I think the evolving Novartis story is going to be a good example of the difference between the press release business press and the national political press in full scandal mode. Novartis’s explanation simply makes zero sense – it’s telling that they thought it would survive first contact with any scrutiny. I suspect we’ll find out that that’s the case because it’s a hastily contrived cover story. Even now, the story seems to be evolving toward a more plausible and problematic destination.

Here’s Novartis’s official explanation.

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As I said last night, I think yesterday’s revelations about Michael Cohen and payoffs from a Russian oligarch and from at least two Fortune 500 companies are among the biggest we’ve seen since the beginning of the Russia investigation. With the morning and more follow up reporting, I wanted to walk through precisely what we learned last night.

Let’s begin with some critical background. Michael Cohen has operated his various business operations through numerous shell companies for years. Last night I realized that I could name from memory at least a dozen that I had come across in earlier reporting. Cohen created Essential Consultants LLC in Delaware less than two weeks before he finalized his hush money deal with Stormy Daniels. It appears that EC LLC was created specifically for that purpose.

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TPM Reader TH thinks he knows where Michael Avenatti got his amazingly specific details. And it sounds right to me …

I want to shed some light on tonight’s post re: Cohen/Avenatti, specifically this line:

“They’ve also confirmed the dollar amounts. So while we still don’t know where or how Avenatti got this information he must have had access to one of Cohen’s ledgers, a bank statement or perhaps an investigative document. The details are simply too specific.”

I work as an Anti-Money Laundering and Bank Secrecy Act Specialist at a financial institution. Every bank/credit union/etc will have someone who’s responsibility it is to examine transactions and file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) with FinCEN, a department of the Treasury. This is what I do.

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Tonight we have what I’d say may be the most staggering revelations since the tangle of “Trump/Russia” investigations began almost two years ago. This is not hyperbole.

Late this afternoon Stormy Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti posted what he called a “Preliminary Report” on financial transactions of Michael Cohen. The claims were staggering. But this wasn’t a legal filing in which the attorneys in question need to vouch for their accuracy. For all the fancy language it was simply a press release, with no clear explanation of the basis for the various claims. (It’s an example of how TPM is in many ways a much more conservative operation than many mainstream media publications. Bloomberg for instance published basically all the claims even though they were clear that it could not independently verify them. To be clear, this is not necessarily a criticism. These are fact sets for which there is little obvious precedent.) In any case, the key claims are now being confirmed – in most cases to the letter.

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Our new Secretary of State thinks Kim Jong Un is referred to as “Chairman Un”.

Today what we’re hoping to do is – there have been discussions between that day to now, and we’ve continued to develop both administratively and sort of begin to put some outlines around the substance of the agenda for the summit between the President and Chairman Un. And today we’re hoping to nail some of those down to say – to put in place a framework for a successful summit between the two presidents.

Not long ago, Donald Trump Jr. and his wife Vanessa Trump announced they were divorcing. The divorce appears to be getting acrimonious. For decades Donald Trump used The New York Post as a press tool to pump up his brand and attack enemies. The New York press world and the high octane real estate families who are fodder and enablers of it are all notoriously corrupt. And now – surprise, surprise! – The Post appears to be in the lead with dramatic dirt on Trump’s estranged wife – specifically, that in high school she dated and had a years-long relationship with a member of the Latin Kings, a notoriously violent Latino street gang which is the bigger brother, as it were, of MS-13, the street gang with roots in Central America and among Central American immigrants which Donald Trump endlessly cites as an example of the need for his draconian immigration policies.

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